6 underrated destinations for the New Year

More and more people are using the New Year to achieve their ultimate resolution: travel more. Traveling for the New Year is a great way to put life into perspective and count your blessings. It’s also a great way to change traditions and try something new.

While New York, Miami, Dubai and Accra have become top New Year’s Eve destinations, other exciting cities have some interesting and fun traditions. Here are six underrated places to spend the last night of the year.

Maputo, Mozambique

The capital of the East African nation of Mozambique is a hidden gem for New Year celebrations. Apart from New Year, Maputo is a lively city where art plays a huge part in the culture. It is located on the Indian Ocean, making it a premier holiday destination with beach resorts and international hotels along an impressive coastline.

When they bring in the New Year, visitors will find sparkling lights, street and beach parties and fireworks in an already fun destination. There is no right or wrong way to celebrate the New Year in Mozambique, but a beach party along the coast is one of the most popular places. Imhambane, Tofo, Barra and Massigna are popular beach parties.

Quito, Ecuador

Travelers looking to ring in the New Year with a new tradition should consider heading to Quito, Ecuador, where people celebrate the new by burning the old.

Ecuador’s fiery and unique tradition is known as ‘Año Viejo’. Families create effigies or dolls (toys). Effigies can represent a famous person, a disliked or annoying person, or a disappointment. They are made from wood, paper mache or cardboard before being filled with sawdust, paper, dried leaves and even fireworks. They are dressed in old scarecrow-like clothes, and attached to the images is a handwritten note explaining why it should be burned. Once the cheering begins, the effigies are thrown into the streets where they are burned to ashes.

All of this is symbolic of burning away the regrets and disappointments of the previous year and starting the new year with hope and new resolutions.

Funchal, Madeira

Thanks to ideal weather all year round, there’s no wrong time to visit Madeira, an island off the coast of Portugal. However, one of the best times to visit is during the New Year because it boasts one of the best celebrations in Europe. In 2006, Madeira was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the “World’s Largest Fireworks Show”.

The world-famous fireworks show is the big event in town, evident by the large cruise ships that circle Funchal’s harbor early in the day.

The nightclubs are packed and the Madeira Orchestra usually puts on a fun show on the town pier. Just before midnight, the crowd begins the countdown. Lasting for about eight minutes, the fireworks show has many stunning effects that you won’t see anywhere else in the world.

St. Kitts and Nevis

If you want to start your Carnival celebrations early, St. Kitts is where you want to go. While many countries begin Carnival celebrations before Lent, when Christians commemorate the 40 days Jesus Christ spent fasting in the desert, the St. Kitts National Carnival begins in December and usually runs until New Year’s.

During New Year’s week, visitors can immerse themselves in street parties, music, the Grand Carnival Parade and other island traditions.

Zion National Park in Utah

For travelers looking to get away from big parties and celebrations, consider visiting a national park like Zion National Park in Utah. There will still be crowds but a different vibe as you will be surrounded by people who love the cold and want to walk and be outdoors.

Located less than 2.5 hours from Las Vegas, Zion National Park is perfect for sand cliff viewing. The park stretches across three counties in Southwest Utah and consists of some of the most scenic canyons in America. Covering more than 230 square miles are high plateaus, sandstone canyons, and the Virgin River. The highest point is Horse Ranch Mountain, rising to 8,726 feet above sea level.

Cape Town, South Africa

West Africa has stolen Africa’s shine as a top holiday destination, driving up prices significantly. Another underrated city is the ‘Mother City’ of South Africa, Cape Town.

There is no shortage of entertainment in South Africa and there is something for everyone. South Africa produces some of the best wines in the world, so exploring local vineyards is a great way to ring in the New Year.

Cape Town is also one of the best places in the world for parties and nightclubs for people looking for a lively night scene. Another favorite among tourists and locals is to head to the top of Table Mountain to watch the V & A waterfront fireworks.

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